A study published in the journal Cell reveals that over 1,400 genes found in 218 species of insects, including butterflies and moths, were inherited from bacteria, viruses, fungi, and plants through horizontal gene transfer (HGT) hundreds of millions of years ago. This gene transfer might have played a crucial role in insect evolution, aiding them in developing advantageous traits related to mating behavior, nutrition, growth, and adapting to environmental changes. Although HGT is common among microbes, researchers have now begun examining the phenomenon's impact between insects and other organisms. The study's authors, led by Xing-Xing Shen from Zhejiang University, collaborated with Vanderbilt University's Antonis Rokas to analyze insect genomes, revealing numerous instances of HGT events. One particular gene, found in moths and butterflies and inherited from bacteria, was linked to viable egg production and male courtship behavior. The researchers intend to conduct further studies to understand the gene's mechanisms and its potential application in pest control.